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review 2018-02-24 18:57
Howl's Moving Castle - Diana Wynne Jones

For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

I absolutely loved this book. I was hooked from the first page and with every paragraph it just got better and better.

Going into it, I didn't really know what to expect, but I am so glad I finally read this. It is a wonderful, spell-binding story filled with twists and turns. The characters are so unconventional and amazing. You can't help but loving them and all of their flaws (although, I wanted to strangle Howl at times- the mess, always the mess). 

This is one of those books that, once you get into it, you don't even care what happens at the end; you are just happy to be along for the ride. Such a great adventure. 

The ending, while I wouldn't say it was predictable, is written in a way where you kind of know where it is heading with all of those loose ends that need tying up.

It is similar to Harry Potter in that there are multiple stories that all weave together as the book goes on. 

Amazing. I love this book. I was so glad to find out that there are two more books in the series. I cannot wait to read them. Fantastic book!

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review 2018-02-24 18:05
All Aunt Hagar's Children by Edward P. Jones
All Aunt Hagar's Children - Edward P. Jones

I think I am done with this one, at least for now. I've read the first 5 out of 14 stories (132 pages) and am finding it a drag, though I loved The Known World years ago and later on liked Lost in the City. The going felt slow, and the stories felt cluttered and sometimes confusing. Not all readers will share my short story preferences - I like them to be streamlined and to end with a bang - but that didn't really fit with these stories, which tend to meander along with two or three subplots that often don't reach any resolution or have much to do with the main plot. They're well-written and I'd hardly say they were objectively bad, but I'm not feeling it right now.

Some commentary on the individual stories, because I always want to see more of that in reviews of collections:

"In the Blink of God's Eye" - a young couple moves from Virginia to D.C. at the beginning of the 20th century, and begins to grow apart after she adopts a baby abandoned in their yard. I liked this one, though I felt it was a little padded out with the stories of secondary characters.

"Spanish in the Morning" - a young girl starts at Catholic school and skips ahead to first grade. The ending of this one baffled me.

She falls at her desk when standing up and thinking about how she's not happy about the treatment of a couple of other students, and then we rejoin her in bed at home with a wound in her hand and her family saying she doesn't have to return to that school. I couldn't tell whether she'd had a seizure or medical episode - which would make sense practically but not thematically and wouldn't explain the wound - or whether she spoke up and the teacher stabbed her in the hand, fitting in with a story an older relative told her earlier about a teacher who had a pitchfork like the Devil. Which would make sense thematically but is bizarre.

(spoiler show)


"Resurrecting Methuselah" - an American soldier in Korea is diagnosed with breast cancer, and his wife decides to leave him. In this one it was the motivations that confused me. We spend a lot of time with the wife, including a long sequence in Hawaii on the way to Korea in which she buys some candy she remembers from her childhood to find it completely different.

Then for some reason that was unclear to me, she immediately gives up on visiting her husband and flies home instead. My guess is that, having spent her adolescence as an invalid, she wasn't willing to have sickness in her house or around her daughter. But what does the candy have to do with it?

(spoiler show)


"Old Boys, Old Girls" - a young man is imprisoned for the second of two murders he's committed, does his time, and once on the outside, has to figure out how his family and an old lover fit into his life. I liked this one, which is interesting and doesn't have room for random subplots.

"All Aunt Hagar's Children" - a Korean war vet wants to head out to Alaska to pan for gold, but the older women of his family ask him to look into the murder of one of their sons instead, and he does. This was interesting but the end unconvincing.

He sees the murdered man's wife strike a powerful pose and concludes that she was the murderer, although there are plenty of other suspects.

(spoiler show)

And this one too grew weeds: it spends a lot of time on a stranger who died in front of the narrator getting off a streetcar, which does nothing in the story other than to haunt him, and I didn't believe for a minute that he somehow memorized her last words when they were full sentences in a language he didn't speak. Strings of unfamiliar words are unmemorable gibberish to me, and I'm good at foreign languages.

At any rate, I'm certainly not denying that there's merit here, but this wasn't the right time for this book, so it's heading back to the library.

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review 2018-02-10 07:35
AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE Review
An American Marriage - Tayari Jones

This book has a rocky start. Without delving too deep into spoiler territory, this is about a young, upwardly mobile married couple in Atlanta faced with unforeseen circumstances that threaten to rip their marriage apart. As seen in the book’s synopsis, the husband — Roy — is wrongfully arrested and sentenced for twelve years. Celestial, his wife, is left alone to work at her business and visit hubby when possible.

 

I didn’t much care for these characters, especially Roy. At least not at first. For the first 150 pages or so, this novel seems to be a portrait of the toxicity of masculinity. Celestial’s life is ripped to and fro by the men around her, and I just wanted to shake her shoulders and scream “Wake up!” Ugh.

 

Things did pick up in the latter half, and the writing got less choppy. There were fewer exposition dumps and the characters became more sympathetic. My internal rating slowly rose to what it is now: four stars. The author stuck the landing; she didn’t go for what was easy, but what was appropriate for the story. I respect that.

 

I am glad I read this, but I doubt I’ll revisit it. At times too flimsy, at other times downright frustrating, this is an uneven story with a killer second act.

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text 2018-02-08 02:04
Loving Shawl's work, and question about Ken Liu?
Everfair - Nisi Shawl
The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories - ... The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories - Ken Liu
The Grace of Kings (The Dandelion Dynasty) - Ken Liu
The Wall of Storms (The Dandelion Dynast... The Wall of Storms (The Dandelion Dynasty) - Ken Liu
Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi The Legends of Luke Skywalker (Star Wars: Journey to Star Wars: the Last Jedi) - Ken Liu,J.V. Jones

So I'm loving Shawl's Everfair.   It's a steampunk alternate history of Belgium's colonization of the Congo, and it's a period I know nothing about.   It's also written by an African American women, which is nice: last year Readercon had a woman guest of honor and an African American woman who was a guest of honor. 

 

This year, it's an African American woman and an American man of Chinese descent.   (Liu was born in China, in fact, and immigrated at age eleven.)

 

I bring this up because it's nice to see diversity: Readercon has been fairly committed to diversifying it's guest and panelist pool, and so far I think these guests have been living up to that.   (I've also met a diverse mix of authors in general, although I think we always have to keep vigilant and work at keeping that diversity.   But it's nice to see it working a bit.)

 

Anyway, I've been staying away from most of Liu's stuff, because I feel like he's most well known for longer fantasies, which I'm usually not a fan of.   Novik's stuff worked for me because of the wit and the fair amount of action.   

 

So... have you read Liu?   Liked it?   And should I start with his Skywalker/Star Wars young adult collection?   But, then again, I never liked Luke all that much, so I've been hesitating. 

 

Anyone who's read him and has an opinion?   I'd love to hear it.   Or on Shawl's work, but I feel like she might be less well known.   (And I'll probably continue to love Everfair, but, yeah, I'd like to hear from you guys!)

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review 2018-02-07 18:59
Wonder Woman, Batman and The Gentleman
Batman (2016-) #39 - Tom King,Jordie Bellaire,Joelle Jones,Mikel Janin

Wonder Woman and Batman get stuck in an alternate universe, fearful they won't get back at all because they can't without the man they set free.   Another hero, but the time works differently in the two worlds and after a couple hours in the 'real' world, and ten years for Batman and Wonder Woman, well...

 

I'm very hopeful that this is going to be the end of the marriage, though...

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